Yaakov Neeman - Olivier Fitoussi - 05012012
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman at a ceremony for lawyers last month. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Two years ago, this paper wrote: "Yaakov Neeman's modus operandi - walking the fine line between truth and lies, and apparently even crossing it - is inappropriate even for a commercial lawyer, whose top priority is achieving results for his client. It is intolerable for a justice minister."

The recent chain of events surrounding Neeman's efforts to oust the Israel Bar Association's representatives on the Judicial Appointments Committee - an attempt that was slated to include retroactively canceling the Bar's elections - once again attests that Israel's justice minister is a scoundrel.

The deceitful way in which Neeman secured the bill's approval in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation - as well as the way he subsequently advanced it, even though both the bill and, in light of developments, its significance were changed radically after the committee approved it - show that Neeman doesn't even draw the line at misleading his colleagues in the cabinet. And when both the Knesset and the Justice Ministry prepared legal opinions that deemed the bill unconstitutional, Neeman didn't stop and study them; he continued to advance the legislation.

To Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's credit, it must be said that, unlike Neeman, he did listen to ministers Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, Gideon Sa'ar, Limor Livnat and Michael Eitan, and MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), all of whom pointed out that Likud was founded on the democratic value of constitutional conduct. He also listened to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who detailed the bill's constitutional flaws. At the end of a dramatic day in the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyahu halted the legislative process.

This isn't the first time the prime minister has been forced to call a last-minute halt to moves launched or backed by Neeman. It's hard to understand what binds Netanyahu to his justice minister. Far from solving problems, Neeman creates problems from which the prime minister then needs to be extricated. Why does the prime minister, who isn't known as an enemy of the rule of law, consent to retain a justice minister who works tirelessly to undermine the rule of law?

The time has come to ask Netanyahu whether he actually hopes Neeman's deceitful and unconstitutional maneuvers will succeed, and is thus the justice minister's silent partner, or whether he is committed to democratic values and constitutional action. And if it's the latter, then he must replace his justice minister.